Turkish journalist slapped while questioning journalist
Mehmet Özmen, a reporter from the hardline pro-government Yeni Akit newspaper, was slapped after asking a challenging question to daily Zaman editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanlı.As if being under constant attack in the political arena and in sports stadiums is not enough, Turkish journalists are now trading physical blows with each other.
Mehmet Özmen, a reporter from the hardline pro-government Yeni Akit newspaper, was slapped after asking a challenging question to daily Zaman editor-in-chief Ekrem Dumanlı at the Istanbul International Book Fair on Nov. 17. Zaman is closely affiliated with the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, the government’s ally-turned-nemesis.
While answering questions at the fair, Dumanlı was surrounded by uniformed bodyguards, and although video footage of the melee does not clearly show who slapped Özmen, a photo shared on Twitter seems to show Dumanlı as the culprit.
Özmen had asked a question about Dumanlı’s recent claim that followers of the Gülen movement in Turkey’s southeast had switched their votes from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to the Kurdish problem-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). “I am a journalist and I am asking a question. What’s wrong?” he said as the incident broke out.
Zaman daily, meanwhile, has accused Özmen of being a “professional provocateur,” claiming that he had similarly stirred up public events before.
While such physical confrontations between journalists are rare, they frequently come under verbal attack from politicians in Turkey, which has one of the worst press freedom records in the world.
Recently, a group of journalists was physically assaulted by officials of the Fenerbahçe football club while trying to film national football team goalkeeper surprisingly leaving the stadium ahead of Turkey’s Euro 2016 qualification game with Kazakhstan in Istanbul on Nov. 16.